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‘Enormous Advantage on the Battlefield’: Arthur Herman on the Race for AI

In this special episode, we sat down with Arthur Herman, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Quantum Alliance Initiative. He talks about the race for AI and quantum computing between the United States and China, the dangers around that, and how it’ll play out going forward.

Herman said: “Military AI is a big, burgeoning area. The Chinese have understood for a long time that command over AI gives an enormous advantage on the battlefield and in terms of force and military deterrence. And that’s why that Chinese idea of civilian-military fusion, that the work that civilian companies do on artificial intelligence belongs—lock, stock, and barrel—to the government and to the military if they need that capability. There’s no choice about this. It’s a compulsory principle that’s invoked with the idea of civilian-military fusion. That means that Beijing and its military and intelligence leadership have automatic access to all of the competence, to all of the applications that their commercial companies are developing and their commercial labs are developing. Whereas we in the United States have to find ways to incentivize those companies and labs to cooperate with us. In the case of Google, they decided, ‘No, we’re not going to get involved in facial recognition of potential terrorists. We feel that that’s going too far in terms of the war on terror.’ So what we’ve got to deal with is the fact that we do have companies and individuals working in these technologies who don’t want to cooperate with the government, who don’t want to help the military. And that’s a problem. That’s a handicap in a race like this.”

He went on to say, “One of the consequences is what we’ll see on the battlefield, for example, or in a military confrontation—that China will simply have weapons that are smarter, that are better at being able to operate independently autonomously—as they say at the Department of Defense or as we used to say at the National Security Council—that that aspect of smart technology will have a comparative advantage for China versus the U.S. because AI applications will be more pervasive, more widely used within weapons systems, all the way down to the actual devices that an ordinary soldier will carry on to the battlefield. It’ll also provide an important advantage as well in terms of furthering development of other technologies.”

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